Michael Mina's eponymous restaurant underwent a bit of a personality change with its 2010 move to the former Aqua space on California Street, dropping its prix-fixe menu format in favor of an a la carte offering (though diners still had the option of choosing a nine-course tasting menu from chef Ron Siegel). But as Inside Scoop reports, Mina has decided to take his Michelin-starred SF flagship back in a more fine-dining direction with a new mini-makeover, which has nearly halved the seat count (from 144 to 78) and converted the back dining room into a new 25-seat private dining area. Increased noise reduction, white tablecloths, and other frills are all in effect.
With the change in scenery comes a change in pricing: the new starting point for diners is a four-course prix fixe menu clocking in at $95, with options like grilled Maine lobster and Angus ribeye. (There's an optional wine pairing for $70.) The nine-course Ketto tasting menu remains, with a slightly increased price tag, bumping from $160 to $165; the wine pairing for that option has risen in price as well, from $99 to $110.
The new format is intended to be a showcase for Siegel, who once held four stars from the Chron at Charles Nob Hill and The Ritz-Carlton Dining Room (the latter of which is now the more casual Parallel 37). Considering that Mina cites Quince as a reference point for the switcheroo, he may be gunning to get Siegel in contention for a second Michelin star. It's an unusual move for Mina, who's been generally working in a slightly more casual vein with his newish Pabu and The Ramen Bar, as well as his projects at Levi's Stadium, to move back into fine dining. But he believes it's a better use of the room, as well as Siegel's gifts. "I want that to be a four-star restaurant," he told Inside Scoop, likely in direct reference to Bauer's most recent review of Michael Mina, where he directly called out the a la carte format and related business crowds as Mina's biggest hindrance to ascending from its current 3.5-star status to the top rating.